MIAMI -- In a matchup of the two teams that have combined to win the past three NBA championships, the Miami Heat, led by forward LeBron James' season-high 39 points, defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 110-104, Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
In some respects, the game was reminiscent of the 2011 NBA Finals, when Dallas beat Miami and players such as James, Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki starred.
On Friday, the two-time defending champion Heat (6-3) got the better of the Mavs (5-4), led by James. Wade had 17 points, a season-high eight assists and a career-high eight steals. He also had five rebounds in 36 minutes. His only negative was at the foul line, where he made only three of seven.
Nowitzki led Dallas with a season-high 28 points.
Trailing 102-99 with 1:21 left, the Mavs had a chance to tie. But Mavs guard Monta Ellis missed a 3-pointer. Heat forward Chris Bosh then made two free throws, and James did the same to help Miami pull away.
Miami had 19 steals and five blocks, forcing a season-high 24 Mavs turnovers.
With 5:01 left in the fourth quarter, Heat point guard Mario Chalmers was ejected after he elbowed Nowitzki. Miami was up 98-95 after that Mavs' possession and Dallas pulled to within 98-97 after a Nowitzki jumper.
But Bosh's jumper took a fortuitous bounce to give the Heat a 100-97 lead with 3:54 left.
In the third quarter, the Mavericks put together a 19-4 run to take a 72-70 lead. But the Heat responded with a 17-6 spurt to lead 86-77 heading into the final period.
James had 11 points in the third quarter and was the main reason Miami was able to withstand Dallas' challenge. James was quiet for most of the third quarter, but in the final 2:36, he hit a 3-pointer and three mid-range jumpers to help the Heat regain the lead.
Entering the fourth quarter, James already had 29 points.
Miami led after the first half, 60-51. The Heat outscored the Mavs 29-19 in order to take that advantage. Wade had 11 points in the second quarter, making three jumpers, three free throws and a layup.
The Mavericks led 32-31 after the first quarter. They got that lead primarily due to the play of Nowitzki, who was perfect in his shooting, making all three of his 3-pointers and going 3-for-3 on the foul line for 12 points.
Nowitzki's brilliant quarter was virtually matched by James, who had 13 points after hitting 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from the foul line.
NOTES: Heat F LeBron James is playing all five positions, according to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "He's probably the first player since Magic Johnson in 1980 who is playing point center," Carlisle said. "We're looking at one of the five best players in the history of the game." ... Heat F Udonis Haslem (back spasms) missed his third straight game. But he has practiced two straight days and could be ready for the Heat's next game Saturday at the Charlotte Bobcats. ... Heat G Ray Allen (illness) missed his second straight game and "probably" won't make the trip to Charlotte, according to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Allen went through Friday's shoot-around but still feels weak. ... Mavericks G Wayne Ellington (bruised right thigh) and F Brandan Wright (left shoulder) are out. ... Mavericks rookie PG Shane Larkin, a first-round pick out of the University of Miami, began practicing, but there is no timetable yet for his return. ... Mavericks PG Devin Harris (toe injury) is due back in mid-December.